While taking my boys out to a local park for some bike riding practice, I found myself walking around the area and noticed a good bit of litter on the ground. With nothing else to do, I decided to pick up a few pieces. Before I knew it and without me even asking them, the boys picked up on what I was doing and starting following behind me to see who could pick up the most!
Everything is a contest in their minds. Within 10 minutes, we’d gathered up an entire milk crate of garbage and I felt immediate gratification from being able to leave the park better than we found it. I also felt a sense of pride in my boys for seeing an opportunity to help out and jumping right in without it being forced upon them. It led to a conversation about what we had just done and why it’s so important to properly dispose of our trash and not leave it behind. My oldest was able to identify that the trash on the ground could easily destroy plants and wildlife, and I added that it could contaminate local waterways, etc. It is my hope that they will learn a sense of responsibility from my leading by example. By seizing opportunities like these and offering an explanation as to “why” we do things, I hope that they can become more responsible and understand the effects of their actions toward others, as well as to our environment.
Now, please let me clarify that I am no tree-hugger nor do I claim to be an environmentalist by any means. I contribute my fair share of waste and am a consumer of all things convenient. I simply believe we should all do what we can to keep from destroying God’s green earth and the resources that are made available to us. I’m a firm believer in leaving a place better than you found it, whether it’s a local park or a friend’s house after a play date. Our local parks are made available to us on the free. How much nicer would they be if we each took a moment of our time there to pick up a piece of trash or two? Rather than thinking of it with the mindset of “that trash isn’t mine”, try thinking about it along the lines of, “this park, this city, this (insert resource here) is made available to me and my kid plays/lives/(insert verb here), so I’d like to do my part in making this a better place for all of us to continue to enjoy.” Try your best to lead by example, Mommas. Your kids will pick up on it, before you even realize it.